Wieland, or, The Transformation has ratings and reviews. Bill said: How do you judge a writer who has a spark of genius but almost no talent o. : Wieland; or the Transformation and Memoirs of Carwin, The Biloquist (Oxford World’s Classics) (): Charles Brockden Brown, . Wieland; Or, the Transformation – an American Tale by Charles Brockden Brown. Xan Brooks on a year-old novel that provided a map for.
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Wieland (novel) – Wikipedia
Without further ado, James Yates left his cosy seat by the hearth in order to break his sleigh and butcher his livestock. But the voice was unsatisfied and demanded further charkes. And so Yates by all accounts a respected, God-fearing individual went on to kill his wife, his two sons and his infant daughter.
He then dragged his surviving child from the barn where she’d been hiding and ordered her to sing and dance for him while he stood there in the cold, measuring his love for her against his love for God. Eventually God won out and Yates — in thrall to a higher power vrockden put his axe through the young girl’s skull.
An account of this multiple murder would later catch the eye of an aspiring young writer named Charles Brockden Brown. Written inWieland; or, The Transformation would be Brown’s first published work, a Gothic thriller inspired by the Yates case which fed back to the Old World, where it served as a direct influence on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
What a bold and alarming claim that is. Wieland changes the names and shifts the action to a small estate in Mettingen, Pennsylvania, a short distance from Philadelphia.
This is the home of devout Theodore Wieland, the son of a German “mystic” who died years before in mysterious circumstances. Since then Wieland has gone on to marry and father children, although his estate also provides a haven for his sister Clara the book’s narrator and his sparky, cerebral brother-in-law Pleyel, recently returned from a trip to Europe.
The family is happy, wealthy, stimulated. Romance is gently budding between Clara and Pleyel. Then one night Wieland strolls outside on an errand and hears a voice call to him in the gloom, warning that there is danger in his path.
He thinks the voice is that of his wife, Catherine, except that Catherine is back at the house, “busy at the needle”, right where he left her. Before long the voices are everywhere, within and without. They call out on the steps that lead to the family temple and hatch murder plots from behind the closed door of the bedroom closet.
They pour poison into Pleyel’s ear, convincing him that Clara has been unfaithful. Crucially, they come to fog the brain of Wieland himself, an American Abraham awaiting word from on high. If there is a villain in this piece it is surely Carwin, an “imp of mischief” who has taken to loitering around the estate. The character appears out of nowhere, although Pleyel later admits to having met him in Spain, and he graces Brown’s tale with its most innovative, enigmatic ingredient.
Nothing about him is quite as it seems.
Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland
But is it Carwin who delivers the fateful command to Theodore Wieland? He swears he is innocent, although his protestations are desperate and confused. Perhaps even he cannot say for certain. Brown right originally trained as a lawyer and rattled off nine novels in a frantic four-year spell before dying of consumption aged For all that maybe brpwn because of all thatWieland is remarkable. In its crude, pegged-out charlees, Brown’s melodrama provided a map for the fiction that followed, pinpointing New World tensions and terrors at a time when the republic was still freshly formed, stitched lightly on to the great American wilderness.
It sets Pleyel up as the mouthpiece for the age of reason and Wieland as the embodiment of religious fervour. And then it has mercurial Carwin come snaking between them, confounding one and galvanising the other. Along the way, Brown depicts a land in which “invisible agents” prey on the distempered imagination and where the American homestead is not so much a refuge from horror as the stage it plays out on.
Two centuries on, Wieland stands as a bravura act of literary channelling, a fierce blur of primal and societal anxieties.
Behind its grinding gears bown lurid conceits, we hear the sound of a culture settling in for the long haul, guided by voices and staking its claim. Order by newest oldest recommendations.
Wieland, or, The Transformation
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